RMIT alumnus finds inspiration and success through self-discovery

RMIT alumnus finds inspiration and success through self-discovery

“How will you know what you are meant to do in life?” For RMIT alumnus Nguyen Huyen Chau, the attempt to answer that question has taken her through an ever-changing journey of self-discovery.

Over a decade after graduating from RMIT, Chau still clearly remembers a course called Leadership during her Bachelor of Commerce program. In was in that course that she completed her first personality test with the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator.

“The results revealed my personality type as ENFP, which belongs to the ‘explorers’ group. That’s probably an explanation for why my life since then has resembled an unending exploration of different work environments,” Chau said.

news-1-nguyen-huyen-chau-alumnus Nguyen Huyen Chau (pictured left) graduated from RMIT with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 2008.

Upon graduation, Chau worked for a multinational real estate company and then moved to Vietnam’s biggest state-owned investment corporation, before quitting her nine-to-five job to strike out on her own.

“When I was 27, I hit a ‘quarter-life crisis’ that had me questioning my self-identity, self-worth, and life goals. It took many sleepless nights for me to realise that I was not living the life I wanted. So, I decided to start doing my own thing,” she said.

Chau took a few gap years engaging with community-based projects and freelancing for NGOs, helping to build schools and improve livelihoods for indigenous women in the mountainous north of Vietnam. She was also a highly active member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community in Hanoi.

news-2-nguyen-huyen-chau-alumnus Chau (pictured centre, facing the camera) during a visit to Ha Giang province for the Action for Lung Tam project, which helped to design new facilities for a local hemp textile cooperative run by indigenous women.

Among her other endeavours, Chau opened a dance studio in 2011 (which has since closed down) and co-founded CA’ Library, the first library focusing on art and architecture in Hanoi, in 2017. Her most recent brainchild is VAN•HOA, a creative solutions company inspired by local cultures, of which she is the founder and CEO.

Chau said it had taken many trials and errors until she was able to define her focus. She now devotes much of her time to building her own eco-system in the creative industry.

“My work at VAN•HOA aims to inspire and connect generations with creative concepts from local cultures, while CA’ Library offers a space for creative practitioners to exchange ideas and knowledge on art, architecture, design and culture,” she explained.

Chau was motivated to start up with VAN•HOA after she attended international conferences and failed to find high-quality gifts with strong Vietnamese cultural identity to present to foreign friends.

“I realised there was a lack of visual designs and products that would instantaneously be recognised as being from Vietnam, even without a ‘Made in Vietnam’ label attached to them,” she said.

“So, I founded VAN•HOA and chose to cater to businesses first through a variety of creative products and services. I want to be a bridge connecting creative professionals and the business community, thereby raising support for cultural industries.”

news-3-nguyen-huyen-chau-alumnus Chau (pictured left) on behalf of VAN•HOA recently signed a strategic cooperation agreement with To He Viet to help revive “Con giống bột” (Vietnamese dough figurine) - a thousand-year-old art on the verge of vanishing.

As a person with many different interests, Chau believes her journey will not stop with VAN•HOA and feels fortunate that she is still discovering new opportunities.

“University was really the first learning environment where I was encouraged to ask questions – even silly ones. I could try new ideas and mix with different personalities from different cultural backgrounds. That time really shaped my attitude towards personal growth,” Chau said.

“People often say the journey matters more than the destination, and through mine, I have grown to become wiser, more understanding, and more willing to learn. That’s what I’m most proud of.”

Learn more about Nguyen Huyen Chau’s story in a new video by RMIT University to mark its 20th anniversary in Vietnam.

Story: Ngoc Hoang

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